WINDHOEK – Following a number of consultations held on the modalities of the levy on plastic bags with the Namibia Trade Forum, retailers and industry as well as the Cabinet Committee on Trade and Economic Development, Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta revealed they will finish the process by the end of the month before giving due notice in the government gazette.
In August, Cabinet endorsed the proposals as recommended by the Cabinet Committee on Trade and Economic Development on the introduction of an environmental levy on plastic carrier bags, with 100 percent of the revenue from this levy accruing to the Environmental Investment Fund for improved waste management practices.
Environmental Commissioner of Namibia, Teofilius Nghitila last year said government introduced a levy on plastic bags in an effort to curb pollution in the country, following closely in the steps of other African countries clamping down on waste related to plastic that has become a concern of colossal proportions.
There have been discussions with the Ministry of Finance to formulate taxes on plastic bags in Namibia.
This means that soon Namibians will pay a small additional amount when they make use of plastic carrier bags while shopping.
Other measures to phase out the use of plastic bags in Namibia include a ban on the import and domestic production of plastic bags containing calcium carbonate (CaC03); and a ban on the use of plastic carrier bags in protected areas.
With regard to the introduction of a levy on plastic carrier bags, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism was authorised to prepare a regulation in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance.
The introduction of this levy is in line with Section 26 of the Environmental Investment Fund Act, 2001 (Act No. 13 of 2001), which allows for the Minister of Environment and Tourism to determine and impose levies with concurrence from the Minister of Finance and upon recommendation of the Board of the Environmental Investment Fund.
“After considerable deliberations on this matter, we believe that the introduction of the levy will be a better measure than an outright ban on plastic bags as it will take time to develop and bring in alternatives to plastic. Nonetheless we are committed to phasing out the use of plastic bags in the country,” Shifeta told members of parliament in the National Assembly last week.
He said the proposed second measure - the banning of plastic bags containing calcium carbonate – is also a significant step moving forward. The objective of the ban on the import of plastic bags containing CAC03 is to eradicate the use of this type of bag.
These bags are considered to be the most damaging type of bags to the health of the environment as they cannot be recycled.
He said they are in consultation with the Ministry of Finance to see how best they bring in a regulation to give effect to this ban.
He revealed this work will be concluded by end of November.
With regard to the third measure endorsed by Cabinet, he said they have amended the regulations of the Nature Conservation Ordinance of 1975 to ban the use of plastic bags in protected areas.
Notice of this amendment was placed in Government Gazette No. 6285 and any member of the public intending to visit a protected area is herewith informed that they should not enter the protected area with a plastic bag.
He said failure to comply with this regulation will result in a fine not exceeding N$500.
He noted the ministry is currently putting in place the necessary systems and awareness to implement this ban effectively.